The Other Side Of Belonging - Transcript

This is a transcript of a “Terrible, Thanks for Asking” episode entitled “The Other Side Of Belonging.” The text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future for accuracy.

Listen to the episode here.


I’m Nora McInerny

And this is Terrible, Thanks for Asking.

And this is Jen.

Jen: Darn it. I’ve done it, and it’s a terrible day when that happens.

Nora: Yeah. It’s like, “Ummmm let’s just circle back to the first question I asked you.”

Jen: Oh shoot.

It’s 2016. Not currently, but for the sake of this story it’s 2016. And Jen and her husband Brandon are getting ready to blow up her career. 

Jen: Brandon and I had intentionally structured our lives so that we would shoulder the majority of the fallout. I had cleared my calendar. I hadn't taken any new speaking events for the next calendar year, because I knew what it would mean. I knew that it would mean every single one of them virtually would need to fire me, and it would cause such disruption in their own spaces, among their own staff and committees and event planners and all that. And I didn't want that for them, so I had no events on my calendar. I'd cleared the deck. We had quietly unhooked from several, like, denominational partnerships that we were involved in. That was just additional ugliness that we tried to avoid as much as we could. We prepared our little church as well as we could, which... there was a lot of division in there, too. And then, so when when it released, we were trying to stand with as few people that were gonna go down with the ship as possible. 

The ship is scheduled to go down with a media interview that Jen has scheduled, one that splits her with the faith she grew up in. She scheduled this interview knowing exactly what she would say and exactly what it would mean for her as a person and a professional.

Jen: But I got to a point where I just said, “God... literally, I either get to have my career like it is right now, or I get to have my integrity, and I have to pick, because I cannot have them both. And so I picked my integrity, and I decided then I will stand in the storm. I will not reverse. I will not walk it back. I will not change my mind. I will not soften the blow. I'm just gonna take it. 

She made sure to follow up that interview with a Facebook post, to make sure it’s absolutely clear. The Facebook post says this: 

Jen: “So, whatever the cost and loss, this is where I am: gay teens? Gay adults? Mamas and daddies of precious gaybees? Friends and beloved neighbors of very dear LGBT folks?

Here are my arms open wide. So wide that every last one of you can jump inside. You are so dear, so beloved, so precious and important. You matter so desperately and your life is worthy and beautiful. There is nothing ‘wrong with you,’ or in any case, nothing more right or wrong than any of us, which is to say we are all hopelessly screwed up but Jesus still loves us beyond all reason and lives to make us all new, restored, whole. Yay for Jesus! Thank God he loves us. He is not embarrassed of any of us. I am not a scandal, you are not a scandal. We are not ‘bringing down his brand.’

Anyhow, my message to you today is simple, LGBT gang and all those who love you: You are loved and special and wanted and needed. The end.”

But that’s not the end. Not at all. It’s not even really the beginning. Because in order to understand why that was such a big, risky stand to take, you need to understand the world that Jen came from. The world that Jen grew up in. 

Jen: I'm the oldest of four kids, um, and so I was the sort of pilot kid. You know how the oldest gets the parents when they're still in their 20s and they don't really know what they're doing with their lives? I was that sort of lead kid where the parents are like, “What are our jobs going to be?” Like, my dad started out as a farmer and then he went to seminary and then it was a whole different deal. And so I lived in four different states until eighth grade. So I did middle school and high school in Kansas. So we don't have a lot. We didn't do, like, a lot of fancy things, but we had this wild, rowdy family that was really, really a great place to be a kid. 

Jen’s dad was a minister, but the kind of minister I’m pretty unfamiliar with because I grew up Catholic, and I’m not trying to offend anybody, but all priests were basically the same to me. They were interchangeable because they all wear the same thing and they all say the same thing every Sunday. But Jen’s dad was different. Jen’s dad was a cool minister.

Jen: He worked in recreation, so he was a sports guy who did, like, leagues and bowling alleys and racquetball courts and all that stuff. So he was a very, very rogue pastor... like, very raunchy, very inappropriate, very beloved, of course, for all those same reasons back then. But the Southern Baptist, man, we were buttoned up. And so that's the only world I knew. I grew up inside of that. So I thought it was the whole world. But it was sort of what you would consider kind of the bull's eye of evangelicalism — if that's a term that has any meaning anymore. It was incredibly conservative, of course, and traditional, very, very patriarchal. And so it was this very, like, well-behaved path. And then, of course, inside of that it also meant academic achievement. And then if I was going to look forward ahead, it was gonna mean I was going to marry really well, and I was gonna be a really good wife. Probably stay home eventually. That wasn't… that wasn't expressly said, but it was just sort of in the water. You know, we just, that was in the water that we drank, which was my sense, a sense that probably my real high duty of life was going to be as wife and mom, and/or some sort of sanctioned career that didn't necessarily hinge on authority or a lot of agency.

But why would that bother Jen? That’s the world! That’s just how it is! And what you need to know about Jen is that Jen was GOOD. She was a good student. She was a good daughter. She was, like many of us, a person who got the syllabus, looked it over and said, “Yep, sounds good. I will check off all of these things and get an A+ in life. Yep. I will be liked! I will be who I am supposed to be! If I rock any boat, I will do it so gently and with a nice smile. I will rock it in a way that is so soothing it honestly is more a service than a disturbance!”

And these messages about goodness and obedience aren’t just a message she gets in her faith. This is NOT specific to just Christianity.

Jen: Depending on who you are, some women are told in their sort of subculture, “Be more,” you know, “you're not enough, you're not doing enough, you're not enough, period.” And other women in their spheres are being told, “Be less,” you know, “you're too much, you are overpowering.” And so it’s not a mystery. Little girls have… they know the score. They know what they're supposed to be. And so we grew up into women who are very able, very capable to basically read a room and give it what it wants. It’s been, you know, pretty clearly explained to us that our job is to control the temperature in the room so nobody else gets too warm. But we don’t get to set the temperature right. Somebody else sets it. Our job is to defer and shapeshift so that nobody else in power in the room feels uncomfortable. 

There are always rules, everywhere we go, about who is in and who is out. About what is good and what is not. About who is good and who is not. And some of these rules keep us safe. Yeah. I love to drive on the right side of the road. And wear my seatbelt. I honestly love rules. Some of these rules keep us alive. And some of these rules just keep us scared.

Jen: There's plenty of play around with, with fear when that's your currency. And so leadership has figured out how to really use that, really weaponize it, to be honest with you. So first of all, there is the fear that this is just this air we breathe, which is the fear of being wrong, being disobedient, being, like, a bad person or a bad Christian or a bad church person or however you want to put it. But it would be this like internal fear, like, “I'm no good.” So you know that that can leave a mark. I'll tell you that. And then there's this external fear, which is still in high rotation, which is the fear of having your belonging revoked. Right. So you just weren't allowed to step outside the lines in certain ways. And so if you did, you could count on being pushed outside the circle. And so that was really scary. Definitely scary as a teenager, you know, when belonging is just... it means so much in those weird, awkward years. But I mean, I'll tell you, as a grown up, it's just as punitive. And it's just a bit just as big of a deterrent. And so that sense, like here's our rules, we have a little gray category that we're willing to play around with, um, where we'll say things like “agree to disagree” or, you know, we'll sort of talk about it behind your back, but you still get to be a part of it. And then there's a list of standards that are just beyond the pale. And those are the ones that get you removed. 

So, there are things that Jen knows she shouldn’t do. She shouldn’t have sex. She shouldn’t drink. She shouldn’t push too hard or ask too many questions. When she’s grown up and married, she shouldn’t get a divorce. And I mean, some rules she follows more than others, but overall she knows that she likes being good. She likes belonging.

Who DOESN’T? Belonging feels good. It feels great. It’s an important way that we thrive as human beings.

Jen: It means a lot to a lot of people. And it's not all bad. You know, there's great meaning to be derived from that space. And and to be absolutely fair, you know, there are plenty of faith communities that are vibrant, where people flourish and they are received and loved and welcomed and, you know.... so I'm painting with a very, very wide brush now. I’m primarily talking about how I grew up. But we'd centered our entire life around the church. So not only was it my dad's job, that was our social space. I think we were at church like three times a week. The youth group, those were my friends. Those were the trips that we took. We went on, you know, big ski trips and youth camps and all this, and it was the center point of pretty much the whole life we built. And so without it, it's not just that we would lose, like, a Sunday morning service, which frankly was the least of it all. It would have been the community, this sense of, “These are my people and I'm loved.

These are my people. I am loved. That sense of belonging is everything, and Jen has it. Now, Jen is good, so she graduates from a conservative college. She gets married. But not in that order. She was 19 when she married Brandon, but he was an older man. He was 21. In their community, they were right on time. 

They graduated. They had kids. Brandon became a pastor and Jen was a teacher until they had three kids and then became a stay-at-home mom. Because if you have kids in this country you know three kids in daycare starts to outweigh a teacher’s salary, which is terrible. Teachers should be paid, like, a billion — I would say a teacher’s starting salary should be at least a million dollars, and that’s after me doing four weeks of not even something I would consider homeschool. My kids are not being schooled. They’re being vaguely supervised while they look at an iPad filled with lessons that their teacher put together.

Anyways. End rant.

Jen didn’t have a job as a teacher anymore, but she worked. Which, duh, staying home with children is more work than I’ve ever done in my lifetime — hats off to Jen and to my husband and to everybody else doing that, because that is work I’m not cut out for.

But besides doing the work of raising kids, Jen had ANOTHER non-paying side job.

Jen: Pastors’ wives are leadership adjacent, which means we work a lot. We log a lot of hours. We don't get paid, and we don't have the authority, but the labor force is there. And so, you know, I worked alongside my husband just practically like in a full-time way. But I started having this real sense of my own voice. I… I probably really sanitized it back then. I don't really remember how I talked about it, because I was exercising this in the ladies’ spaces, right? So I was leading women — again, sanctioned — and I was leading students — again, sanctioned — and figuring out that I really had a love for that space — women particularly — and that I… I was growing in this sense of self-understanding, like, “I think I'm good at this. I think this is both what I love and what I am capable of.

It’s obvious why Jen would be good at that — she’s funny, she’s warm, she’s friendly. It might not be an official church position, but she’s really, really good at making the people around her know that they belong. That they are loved. 

In the year 2000, when their kids are still little, Jen and Brandon move their family to Austin, Texas. They’re in that city to start a new church serving an impoverished community. A new community in a new city, filled with people living waaaaay different lives than the ones that Jen and Brandon lived.

Jen: And so it was a real… it rattled the cages to begin to experience people who were, um, disenfranchised and disadvantaged. And so that was a place where I began to press against some of the ways we structure, some of the things we value, the marriage, the strange marriage of, um, Christianity and the Republican Party. Like, I just started noticing who all that left out. And so people were like, “Oh, well, this is a real interesting and new place you are. Good. Good for you. Good for you. Somebody should care about that. And that's, that seems like something you should do, Jen.” And so  while I didn't get a lot of criticism there, I did… what happens when you start to see people who are disenfranchised is you see everyone. So maybe it starts in one place, but then you start pulling that thread and you notice the groups that are right next to them that are also disenfranchised, and then right next to them, and you see this connectedness of both privilege and disadvantage.

She sees this, but she’s careful about how she treads these lines. Because that line between your own belonging and someone else’s unbelonging can feel very thin when you’re walking it. She can help the poor, but she shouldn’t push too hard on WHY they’re in this position. She shouldn’t question the systems or the people in charge. 

Her work in the church and at home with her kids has stretched her thin, but Jen has this idea she can’t shake. And she shares it with Brandon.

Jen: And so I remember telling him when the kids were all little that I... I felt like I was... I really wanted to write a book, which is just so absurd. I can't, like, explain to you how… what an absurd thing that was to say. I mean, I'd never done it. It's not my background. I didn't have a computer — like, I didn't even own one.

But it works. Jen writes a book — A Modern Girl’s Guide to Bible Study — which has a pair of retro sunglasses adorning the cover and glowing reviews on GoodReads. It’s published by a Christian publisher and is followed by a book called Ms. Understood — about five women in the Bible who sound pretty cool actually — and then more and more books. Her writing starts to evolve, advocating for minimalism and self-compassion for mothers.

And Jen isn’t just a mom or just a pastor’s wife anymore. Of course, she was never JUST that, but now everyone in her world knows it. There’s a speaking tour. There’s a hugely popular blog.

Jen: I was literally kind of the perfect prototype in evangelical women subculture, because I hit all the right marks, like on paper. I had the right resumé. I had always kind of followed the template enough, enough to not be problematic. But I had just... just the right amount of edge to make me popular, because I was funny and self-deprecating, and I would push on on a handful of ideas that didn't really cause a lot of disruption — that was considered edgy back then, like, “Oh, she's really out there.” I wasn't. I was definitely not really out there. I was nowhere.

Time for a quick break, BRB.

We’re back. Jen is building fame in the evangelical Christian world. She’s edgy but not too edgy… she’s noticing injustice that she didn’t notice before. She’s writing books and a very popular blog and building this following of people — mostly women — who see her as a leader. Their leader. Their cool, bold leader who’s a good kind of bad girl.

Jen: Like I would say the word hell. So just, you know, clutch your pearls! You know what I mean? Or I would... I would roll my eyes at churchy things. I would make fun of Christian subculture even as I was capitalizing on it, right? So that kind of thing, that sort of edgy humor that wasn't saccharine, you know, it wasn't so sweet, it wasn't precious at all, it had some sharpness to it, it had some barbs — that worked. That worked because it was entertaining. And so, you know, I really built a whole career there. And that made up the entirety of my audience, too. I knew how my world worked, and I knew what was allowed, just a very PG edginess that I displayed, that was fine. That worked. That actually worked in my favor. But I knew what wasn't allowed, and I knew I was pressing into those conversations. 

One you start to see things, you can’t unsee them. And the conversations Jen is pressing into are about all the things that feel the opposite of her faith but somehow connected to them. Things like social justice and politics. 

In 2010, Brandon and Jen had adopted two kids from Ethiopia — Ben and Remy. 

Now, as a person known for being honest and edgy, as a person who believes that Christianity means standing up for people, as a person who is a mother to two African kids, how can Jen not address racism?

Well. She doesn’t. Not for awhile. Not directly at least.

And then it’s 2012. And Trayvon Martin — a 17-year-old black boy, a kid, in Florida — was shot and killed while he was walking home. Just walking. Just being a kid. And Jen spoke up — in a very long post on her blog addressed to Trayvon’s mom, where she supports the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Jen:  And now going back, again, CRINGE. I did not know what I didn't know about white supremacy back then. I was very ignorant, very unlearned. I hadn't sat under leaders of color yet for any length of time or in earnest. And so I walked into that conversation armed with nothing but good intentions, and that's obvious. However, that was the beginning. That was a beginning point for me to really position myself as a learner and a listener to communities who have been disenfranchised. And so, um, the communities of color was the first time I really felt the fault lines in my world start to give a little, because I was really a darling. I was. I was a darling of evangelical subculture at the time. 

Jen’s following — which was mainly white women — were offended. Angry. Defensive. Is Jen calling THEM racist? She’s not. She’s just trying to connect her community with the seeking and questioning that she has taken on.

Jen: Back when I was learning about and talking about racism, and specifically white supremacy, which is very on the nose for my community, of course, more specifically, the church's complicity, historically, on bigotry, and I mean, even going back further, slavery. That is when I learned about how quickly and swiftly people would be willing to cancel me and then unfollow me, right? So you I mean, these are pretty small stakes in the big scheme of things. We're talking about largely the Internet. But, you know, more broadly, it's my career and that includes all the invitations and the places that I would or would not speak and all that. So that's when I started noticing, oh, my popularity is fragile. It's not rock solid. This is not an unconditional space of, like, connection and loyalty at all. And it doesn't actually take that much to unbalance the whole equation.

When you’re trying to be in two places, when you’re trying to be two people, you can’t be either. Every time Jen tried to make sure her outside actions matched her inside principles, she’d feel herself toeing that line… pushing close to the edge of losing her reputation, her livelihood, her source of income, the group of women she’d been leading for so long. 

Not all of the women. Some of whom got it. Some of them were with her. And some of them were like, “What? Can’t you just talk about being a mom and wearing leggings and liking Jesus? Can’t you just be quirky and funny and relatable? Can’t you just post about mom stuff?”

Jen: And I did. I did. The way I would do that back then was when I just had welled up as far as I could go with the latest, you know, instance of police brutality or a, you know, unarmed black man being killed again or just whatever it was. And I felt compelled to say something publicly. And then would there be an absolutely predictable response, 100 percent predictable and then fallout. My way to to patch up everything back then was just to say, “OK, Jen, for the next two or three weeks, everything you will write online will be unimpeachable. Nothing that will rock a boat. Things that nobody can disagree with. Be charming. Be funny. Be incredibly earnest.” These are the tools that had always worked. And so I would... I would steady the ship like that until I disrupted the whole thing again. 

So there she was. And years rolled on like that. Jen publishes more and more books. She and her family have a show on HGTV. Jen’s star keeps rising, but she still can’t unsee the people that have been left behind and left out of the belonging that she has, that she has had her whole life. The more she pulls at that thread, the more she sees, the more she speaks, and the more she has to lose. So the more she keeps balancing out those controversial posts with light-hearted stuff that couldn’t possibly offend anyone, the more she manages that risk. The risk of crossing the line. Of not belonging.

And that brings us back to 2016. 

Jen: I started listening, because learning from leaders of color taught me how to be a good listener in spaces that I don't occupy personally. And so I started listening. And... what I was discovering was just... I just felt shattered all the time. My heart was just broken. It's already… there's already tons of cultural places where the gay community is, of course, disempowered. But inside the church, like, that was my people, right? And that's where the pain and the abuse was so acute. And, you know, I'm looking around at the statistics that are telling me that, you know, these kids are seven times more likely to kill themselves. And I'm watching, like, in real time, Christian parents kick their gay kids out and I began to just take a real personal interest And like… after a bit of self-inquiry and examination, we're like, “Oh, we don't believe this at all. So at that point, that is when I was like, “OK, like... if I remain sidelined on this in my position of leadership — and I lead a lot of people, you know, I have a lot of people listening and watching — then I have no right to call myself a leader. Absolutely none. I am disqualified, and I should disavow myself if I am willing to protect myself over this community. 

We’ll be right back.

We’re back. And Jen knows, when that interview comes out, when the Facebook post is live, that she’s driven the final nail into her career coffin. 

Jen: “Anyhow, my message to you today is simple, LGBT gang and all those who love you: You are loved and special and wanted and needed. The end.”

She and Brandon have prepared for the fallout. They’ve evaluated the risk. And now, they’ve taken it.

Jen: I'm not going to have a public version of me that's different than the internal version of me. I'm not going to keep my convictions silent or to self-preserve. I'm just going to be exactly who I am, like, and what I believe, what I want, what I need. I'm just going to be a true person everywhere. And then just see what kind of life I can build around that.

That post now has almost 3,000 comments and 3,000 shares. And some are lovely. And some are very, very… the opposite. 

But that’s just Facebook. There’s also the rest of the world. Her world.

Jen: My books were pulled off shelves and so were Brandon’s. And one of my books just pulled out of print. And it was the book that was selling the most and that was put out of print. And that publisher said, you know, “Either you pay for shipping to get the ones we have in the warehouse, or we're gonna burn them.” And I was just... I couldn't have even kept up with all the articles that were written about me and all the pieces online. And it's just a widespread disavowal. I mean, every nook and cranny, as far as I could see, everybody who had ever known me, or even spoke to me one time, was also all of a sudden thrust into the hot seat. All their friends, all their family members were like, “Well, what do you think? Are you with her?” And our church probably split down the middle on it, and we lost people there that we just loved and treasured. And… it was a really dark, and it was a really lonely, time.

There were headlines like, “Farewell, Brandon And Jen Hatmaker” — which is a really polite headline for a really jerky article that has 262 comments that I do not recommend reading.  Or, “Brandon And Jen Hatmaker Are 100% Wrong.” Again, these headlines are polite, but the point they are making is that if Jen wants to pull people in, she is going to be out. Out of the world that she has occupied her entire life.

We talked before about having your belonging revoked, about that being the ultimate punishment. And while there are ways that Jen won’t lose her entire belonging — she and Brandon have a church and a family — she does lose her belonging in the bigger Christian machine she’s been a part of. These are not just strangers spewing all this stuff. These are also her people — who she thought were her people — and they are vicious. There were death threats mailed to her home with burned or torn up copies of her books.

Jen: My phone and my laptop were like instruments of abuse. And it was like a moth to a flame, you know? I was shocked at the severity of it all and the widespread nature of it all. You know, I just wasn't expecting people to write articles about me, like in Oregon. You know, like… what is going on? 

It’s not easy to find yourself on the outside of a world that meant so much to you. Jen goes to therapy. She tries to take care of herself. 

Jen: I was gobbling up materials quick as I could from everywhere. Who can instruct me right now? Who can help me through this quagmire? Who can show me a better way?

Change is a very painful thing. As a kid, I’d lay in bed screaming in pain mainly for attention but also because my legs hurt. They hurt so bad. I was, like, 5’10” by 8th grade and my growing pains felt like someone was pulling my bones apart. My parents would come in, rub some Bengay on my legs and be like, “Yep, it hurts to grow.”

Jen’s pain grows her. It grows her in every way. Which means it hurts, too. Because it hurts to know that as you grow, certain things and people — and yes, pants — don’t fit anymore. 

And it also feels like freedom.

Jen: Well, come to find out other people are like that, too. I just didn't know. I didn't know that there were whole communities where, for example, spiritual curiosity was valued and even treasured. I didn't know that. I didn't know that there was going to be a rebuilding possibility of people who are even like-minded spiritually or who don't expect a certain template out of me or out of themselves or out of anybody. So what I've discovered is the community I never even knew existed. That I never even knew I wanted.

Jen is back, by the way. Back online. Back on stage. Back on top, in the ways she was before and in the ways that really matter to her now. And if you dropped in on her Instagram or her Facebook, or into her new book, with none of this backstory, you would be shocked that she was ever a person who would consider hedging the truth, ever a person who would tip toe around how she really feels about something deeply important. 

You’d never know. But she does.

Jen: It causes me a lot of regret and shame to think back on it, but I sat on several things that I felt differently convicted about for way longer than I should, because I was just afraid of the cost.

Maya Angelou famously said that when we know better, we do better. And if anything, life is a balance of both of those things — constantly learning, constantly evolving. 

And the cool thing about changing is that the longer we are who we really are, the further away that past self gets. The longer we live in a true version of ourselves, the more ridiculously unbelievable every former version of our self seems. 

I don’t know how often any of us find ourselves in a moment where we know the moment is truly key. That it is a pivot point from which things will or will not recover. We don’t know, in those moments, what the after will be. What will happen when we confront our biggest fears, when we stick our neck out or raise our hand. When we speak up. 

Jen:  I'm not afraid of truth anymore. I'm not afraid because it's given me my life back, and it's given me a beautiful community. And to be honest with you, it's given me my faith back, because I did not like the version I was in. I was really just using it. And I found it mean and scary and sad and restrictive. And I found it exclusionary and confusing and arbitrary. And so now I feel like this is the faith that I always had in my heart. 

“Truth is on the side of good and right things. It is not to be feared. If truth can break a relationship or system or doctrine or identity, that thing was built on a lie. It only had the illusion of stability. Every lie we tell or protect costs somebody something. Who is paying the bill? Who does that lie serve? It is at the expense of something true and just and whole.”

You do not have to be who you are right now. You do not have to be who you have always been.

You have the right to grow and learn and get bigger and louder and fiercer. You have the right to be freer and to share that with other people. And you will lose things. You will lose people… who were never your people to begin with. You will lose things that were never really meant for you anyway. 

You will lose your spot in a place that you don’t need to be anymore, and that will lead you to where you do belong.

You will lose who you thought you were. And you will gain yourself.

Jen: I'm so grateful to have now built something on solid ground instead of on sand and it is holding. And inside of it, I don't ever have to pretend at all anymore. And so I say whatever I really mean now. I know that just sounds so lowbrow, but having operated in a place of pretense for so long, where I knew one misstep was gonna cost me my career, I just can't tell you how liberating it is to discover that you can be your whole real self, tell the whole truth, own it all, no pretending at all, and flourish there.

I see that when women are showing up for their own lives, when they are telling the truth, when they are honest and they embrace what they want and what they need and what they believe, and they put the right amount of limitations on relationships that are unhealthy so they can spend time on the ones that are, is that, on the other side of that… that’s where everybody flourishes. Those are the marriages that I love. That's… I see their kids kind of come back to life. Those women are able to show up for their communities in a way that is healthy and true.

So it's not this lie that we've been told, that this is the end of goodness and of society as we know it. It's the opposite to me — it's the beginning. And so these are the women that I'm excited about turning out onto this world. I think we're going to be the answer to so many problems. I think healthy women who are no longer silenced and sidelined are the ones who are going to change the world. I think we're the ones who are going to show up right, and I think about like... my mom's generation, and they went as far as they could, right? I’m proud of them. We stand on a lot of their shoulders. And they broke down some walls for us that were really important. And here right now, it's like... your turn and it's my turn. This is our work. Look, I turn around, and I look at my daughters and I'm like, “They...they are ready for this message right now.” I had to learn it in my 40s. My daughter is 19 and she's already living a lot of this out. And so... these are the daughters we want to raise. This is... this is the stuff we want to put in their hands and say, “You don't have to undo this in your 30s, 40s and 50s. Let's start right out of the gate with full agency, with full competency, being sort of unapologetically in your own skin.” And I think they are going to astonish us. I cannot wait to see what the next generation does.


Nora McInerny

Marcel Malekebu 

Hannah Meacock Ross

Jordan Turgeon

Geoffrey Lamar Wilson

Phyllis Fletcher

Tracey Mumford

Jeyca Maldonado-Medina

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